Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 351–361 | Cite as

Toxicity of Monoterpene Structure, Diversity and Concentration to Mountain Pine Beetles, Dendroctonus ponderosae: Beetle Traits Matter More

  • Mary L. ReidEmail author
  • Jagdeep K. Sekhon
  • Lanielle M. LaFramboise


A high diversity of plant defenses may be a response to herbivore diversity or may be collectively more toxic than single compounds, either of which may be important for understanding insect-plant associations. Monoterpenes in conifers are particularly diverse. We tested the fumigant toxicity of four monoterpenes, alone and in combination, to mountain pine beetles, Dendroctonus ponderosae, in the context of the beetles' individual body traits. Chemical structures of tested monoterpene hydrocarbons had modest effects on beetle survival, mass loss, water content and fat content, with (R)-(+)-limonene tending to be more toxic than (−)-α-pinene, (−)-β-pinene, and (+)-3-carene. Monoterpene diversity (all qualitative combinations of one to four monoterpenes) did not affect toxicity. Concentration (0 to 1200 ppm) of individual monoterpenes was a strong determinant of toxicity. Beetle body size and body condition index strongly and positively affected survival during monoterpene treatments. Larger beetles in better condition lost proportionally less mass during exposure, where proportion mass loss negatively affected survivorship. Toxicity was much more associated with water loss than with fat loss, suggesting that a main cost of detoxification is excretion, a process that has received little attention. These results provide insight into the determinants of beetle success in historic and novel hosts that differ in monoterpene composition and concentration. We also suggest that water availability will affect beetle success directly through their ability to tolerate detoxification as well as indirectly through host responses to drought.


Plant defences Monoterpenes Pinus Scolytinae Fumigant toxicity Body size 



Funding for this study was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant to MLR. We thank H. Peralta-Vázquez, M. Fenton, T. Rajabi and J. Zawalykut for their assistance in the lab. K. Raffa, W. Francke and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary L. Reid
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jagdeep K. Sekhon
    • 1
  • Lanielle M. LaFramboise
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Science ProgramUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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